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<i>The City Always Wins</i>. By Omar Robert Hamilton. MCD, 2017. 320p. HB, $26.

Songs From the Revolution

Recently, after a season of heavy protests, a number of my friends vanished from social media. Some went quiet, some quit altogether. The ones who persisted were the ones who’d always been  vocal, who’d already learned how to fold civic engagement—and occasional resistance—into their daily lives without experiencing the whiplash: engage, protest, engage, burnout.

The entryway to the church of Saint Simon the Tanner.

Garbage City

Perched atop the Moqattam Cliffs, where Pharaonic slaves cut limestone for the pyramids, the Monastery of Saint Simon and its accompanying cathedral boast a commanding view of Cairo. On a smog free day, if you peek around the cliffs to the south, you can see clear to the Great Pyramids of Giza. Looking west, you have a fine view of more recent history; you can almost throw a rock at the Citadel of Salah Ed-Din or into the endless expanse of tombs that make up el-Arafa—the City of the Dead. On the western horizon, the Cairo Tower stands apart from the deceptively modern skyline of downtown. Right below your feet, largely invisible to the outside world, you'll find Izbet Az-Zabaleen. The Garbage City, as it's known in English, is a hive of entrepreneurial recyclers called zabaleen, literally "garbage people," nestled at the edge of Manshiet Nasser, a teeming slum on Cairo's eastern outskirts.


More Words With a Mummy

We were a group of friends lunching together in Cairo. The afternoon was one just following the publication of the introductory articles descriptive of the tomb recently discovered within the shadow of the great pyramids. All told, we were eight, four women and four men.